Christi Bragg Sues Matt Chandler’s The Village Church for $1 Million in Damages Related to Child Sex Abuse

Christi Bragg proceeds with a lawsuit against The Village Church for mishandling a child sex abuse situation. Matt Tonne the former Children’s Minister stands accused of sexually violating a minor at the time. This lawsuit is happening in perhaps the most influential Southern Baptist Church in the denomination. 

“Laws catch flies but let hornets go free.”

Scottish saying

“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”

Benjamin Franklin 

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.

Matthew 5:14,16 NIV 

This blog has written quite a bit about The Village Church over the past few years. There is a disturbing situation that has unfolded in the last few months. It deals with a child sex abuse situation that occurred at a camp by a pastor on staff at The Village Church – Matt Tonne, the former Children’s Minister. You can read about the background and analysis in the following articles. 

  1. Matt Chandler’s The Village Church Responds to the New York Times Story of Child Sex Abuse by a Minister Through an Internal Email to Members on Tuesday June 11, 2019
  2. Preserving The Village Church’s Statements Published in 2018 Regarding the Matthew Tonne Allegations
  3. A Disturbing Story of Alleged Sexual Abuse in The Village Church Involving Former Associate Children’s Minister Matt Tonne. Plus how Matt Chandler Responded to Christi Bragg
  4. What are the Take Aways From the Newest Scandal at Matt Chandler’s The Village Church Involving the Allegation of Matt Tonne’s Sexual Abuse of a Minor?


A $1 Million Dollar Lawsuit Commences Against Matt Chandler’s The Village Church 

On July 26, 2019 a large lawsuit commenced against Matt Chandler’a The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas. The lawsuit alleged gross negligence and and seeks more than $1 million dollars in damages. The lawsuit claims that The Village Church was “willfully negligent” in its failure to protect a child. It also states that the well known Neo-Calvinist church is liable for damages that come about due to the actions of a pastor who was removed from staff.  In the the lawsuit the following claims are made by the Bragg family. 

  1. Matt Tonne was able to access and abuse the plaintiff at a Village summer camp for children because her cabin was also used for staff meetings by adults.  With both male and female present this violated The Village Church’s policies about people of the opposite sex being present when they should not have been. On the night of the alleged assault Matt Tonne met with other adults right outside the girls room. This staff meeting gave him the opportunity to access the children’s section. 
  2.  The suit clams that The Village Church was not honest with the congregation about the reason why Matt Tonne was removed from the staff last year. Matt Chandler’s church claimed that Tonne was removed for alcohol abuse and not allegations of child molestation. 
  3. The lawsuit also alleges that The Village Church took no independent effort to ascertain if Toone allegedly abused any other children under his care. 

According to Christi Bragg no one apologized to her daughter who was allegedly sexually abused. The church made no effort to right any wrongs and repair the damage that took place. In coming forward the Bragg family lost friendships and relationships at The Village Church. The family has been through intense trauma and is being represented by Boz Tchividjian who si known for his work in dealing with child sex abuse. The New York Times first broke this story which can be read here


Analysis of the Situation and Thoughts on the Lawsuit

This lawsuit is one of incredible importance for this one main reason. Matt Chandler;’s; The Village Church is probably the most important and well known congregation in the Southern Baptist Convention. Mark Dever’s Capitol Hill Baptist is much smaller and has a more limited audience. David Platt of McLean Bible here in the DC area has a strong following, but he is new at McLean. The Village Church is the brand that Matt Chandler has created. This development against the other issues with child sex abuse inside the Southern Baptists highlight the other issues going on internally. 

This blog is cheering for the Braggs. Its time that more evangelicals consider lawsuits against organizations and entities that have allegedly covered up criminal allegations. That is really the on;y way these type of situations will be prevented in the past. Another point to make is that Christi Bragg is spot on when she talks about an apology for her daughter. Evangelical Christians don’t own their mistakes or work to heal others. Its amazing what can be learned from a sincere “I’m sorry, let’s talk this out…” But evangelicals don’t operate like that, that is a lesson not only in my mess that happened years ago but in many of the stories that people have told me. While $1 million dollars is chump change to a church building a new $70 million worship center hopefully this will allow other people to come forward. To the Braggs good luck!